Inst. of Directors damns ‘expensive and inflexible’ UK smart meter programme

smart meterNew figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change show that only 2.3 million energy smart meters have been installed in UK homes – well behind schedule to hit the Government’s target to have 50 million in place by 2020.

And not only is the project running late, the Institute of Directors has also warned the flaws in the scheme risked leaving customers footing the bill for meters which will bring them little or no benefit.

Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the IoD, explained: “Smart meters have been promised to consumers as the technology of the future, helping them to keep track of their energy use and reduce bills.

“The truth is that most of the meters going in at the moment will only give each household a paltry energy saving of 2% a year while at the same time actually making it harder for them to switch energy provider as the kit is not compatible with multiple suppliers.

“The Department for Energy (DECC) has committed to perhaps the most-complicated and least-flexible approach, telling energy suppliers to install new electricity and gas meters in all domestic properties by the end of the decade.

“The problem is that they have started the project before the technology has been properly tested and finalised. There are concerns about the security of the smart meters rolled out so far (so called SMETS1 meters), while the next generation of meters (SMETS2) are not ready to be installed in significant numbers.

 “Frankly, the whole project is a bit of a mess. The Government must now admit that it’s not going to plan and pause the roll-out while they consider their options.

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“Other, cheaper alternatives exist to enable accurate and automated metering, including simple bits of kit consumers can clip on to their existing meters.

“Carrying on full-steam ahead with the current programme, ignoring falling energy prices, in order to avoid embarrassment is simply not justifiable.”

Already, many of the latest generation of ‘smart’ phones can already deliver the remote-control flexibility and user-visibility of household electricity consumption benefits promised by ‘smart meters’.

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB replied: “A year ago the IoD produced a fundamentally flawed analysis of smart meters which was riddled with factual inaccuracies and contained absurd policy ideas, ranging from fitting webcams in every home to digitising the energy supply for only the richest parts of the population and leaving the rest of the country behind.

“The IoD has already been shown to be incorrect in its analysis and it still does not understand what is needed to create a secure, efficient and sustainable energy supply for the future.

“It is sad to see that the IoD continues to regurgitate the same inaccuracies and perverse policy positions in relation to the vital modernisation of Britain’s energy system that is being delivered by the smart meter rollout. It is a great shame that, by repeating such poor quality and incorrect analysis, the IoD is rapidly losing any credibility as a serious commentator on energy or infrastructure policy.”

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